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    Skyrim: Hjaalmarch’s 10 Most Interesting Unmarked Locations (& Where To Find Them) – GameRant - December 25, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Each hold inThe Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is unique. Some are almost frozen wastelands while others are home to fetid swamps and billowing bogs. Such a diverse landscape results in equally diverse life. Many different races of men and mer live and thrive in this open tundra province.

    RELATED: Skyrim: 10 Hilarious Memes About Sneaking & Stealth

    Hjaalmarch is a region situated north of Whiterun and nestled between Haafingar on the west with The Pale to the east. Unlike many other holds, most of the landscape consists of marshes, swamps, and other dank wetlands. In these northern parts, there are covens of vampires plaguing the sparse settlements found in the soaked soil as well as other spooky scenes. However, not all appear on the player's map and have to be found with a little exploring.

    East of Morthal, and quite close to it, upon a hill and obscured by some tall pine trees, the player can find a burial mound. This is not one belonging to a dragon or ancient mummified priest but a necromancer. Like quite a few other unmarked locations in Skyrim, this setting is a bit of a grim tableau for a sinister past deed.

    Inside the mound, there is a person in necromancer robes impaled upon a table with a simple dagger. Don't get too distracted by the brutal scene, as there is a skeletal foe inside that will attack the Dragonborn. When the bony enemy has been dealt with, one can loot the various containers in the area as well as find a Staff of Revenants.

    If one heads west from Morthal and crosses the river and then follows its banks south, they will eventually come across a grisly scene of mammoth proportions. A dead woolly pachyderm lies dead upon the sand and grass by the river. Just as one begins to ponder what could have happened here, a bear will likely show up to claim responsibility.

    Either that, or it is scavenging a kill made by another predator. One likely more fierce than any mere bear. Sadly, there are no clues or other interesting events tied to this location. It is simply a display of the natural ecosystem of Skyrim: an unforgiving one that sunders even the mightiest of giants.

    Burial mounds pock the surface of Skyrim like freckles. In each, there is often loot to be had, and most are worth checking out if stumbled across. Northwest of Morthal, before one gets to the Apprentice Stone, there is a moss-covered site of remembrance for someone long forgotten.

    The only foes that can be found here are a few mudcrabs, therefore the player should have no problem gathering up the loot to be found inside. There is a chest as well as a book titled "The Locked Room" that will increase one's Lockpicking skill if read.

    Exploring east of Dragon Bridge will lead one to a large peninsula in the fork of a river. In the northern part of this peninsula, there is a necromancer performing a ritual and preparing potions.

    RELATED: Skyrim: The 10 Rarest Alchemy Ingredients In The Game

    These dark deeds are usually great for finding ingredients for potions and possibly enchanting material, as well as a chance to dole out justice upon foul necromancers. There is also a book here titled "Mannimarco, the King of Worms," which is a book that increases one's Alchemy skill and is a reference to a villainous necromancer from The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion.

    In the far west of the hold, past Robbers Grave, though at the same latitude, there is a spot all players should be careful about treading. These are the hunting grounds of a pair of sabre cats. The location can be spotted from fairly far away by taking note of the tall stone pillars that jut out from the slope of the rocky hill.

    However, if one is confident enough in their combat prowess to fell these two mighty felines, there is some loot to be had besides the eyes, teeth, and pelts of the big cats. In addition to a satchel and coin purse to pilfer, there is a book titled "2920, vol 01 - Morning Star," which can increase the player's One-Handed skill.

    Vampirism is arguably a rampant problem in Skyrim. Not only can the player be infected by this supernatural disease by fighting the fiends themselves, but the influence of blood-drinking covens in Morthal has led to the death of many innocent people.

    It is appropriate that the cure for this illness can be found nearby. North and slightly to the west of Morthal, not too far away is a site of peculiar stones. If one stumbles across them randomly, they are uneventful, but if one speaks to Falion in the vampire-infested city, they can start a quest that leads them here to purge their sanguine pestilence.

    North of the Apprentice Stone, the bloody remains of some unknown tragedy can be discovered. The human bones and limbs, still splattered with wet blood, are the freshly butchered body parts of two unfortunate campers. While investigating, the Dragonborn may spot predators, or scavengers, about the area.

    RELATED: Skyrim: 5 Awesome Locations Players Can't Go (And 5 Quests We Can't Believe Were Cut)

    Wolves, bears, and sabre cats could very well have been the culprits. The brutality makes it seem likely that there were wild animals behind this killing, though particularly vicious vampires cannot be ruled out. "The Exodus," a book that raises the player's Restoration skill, can be found near to the viscera of this campsite.

    Far to the east of Hjaalmarch, north of where the Shrine to Mehrunes Dagon can be found,there is a cart along a road now void of its owner and ability to move, for bandits had struck it. This caravan, laden with all manner of potions, ingredients, and even a skill book, can be secured by slaying the two bandits.

    It was unfortunately too late to save the owner or their horse but at least their goods won't go to the fiends who killed them.

    Between the Nordic tomb of Folgunthur and the East Empire Company Warehouse, almost directly south of the Blue Palace, the player can find a rocky nook packed with containers to loot.

    In addition to the many ingredients and cozy feeling, this smuggler's den has a skill book resting on a crate titled "Purloined Shadows," which increases one's Pickpocketing skill.

    This location may not be on the map but one won't need directions to find it. Simply be in Kjenstag Ruins, a fair bit northeast from Morthal, anytime between 8:00 pm and 4:00 am and a friendly ghost will appear. This non-hostile specter will immediately begin running northeast at no provocation.

    Follow them and they will lead one to an unmarked barrow. The entrance is guarded by two bandits, therefore some combat is inevitable. After the bandits have been dealt with, descend to loot this hidden location packed with loot like random staves, skill books, and jewelry.

    NEXT: 10 Most Beautiful Locations In Skyrim, Ranked

    Next The 10 Best Indie Games Of 2020 (According To Metacritic)

    Canadian writer of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. Enjoys video games that are loaded with monsters, demons, and the like. Listens to metal, dungeon synth, and all the sub-genres underneath them.

    Skyrim: Hjaalmarch's 10 Most Interesting Unmarked Locations (& Where To Find Them) - GameRant

    Determination and true grit defined the early days of Golden Bay’s golden days – - December 25, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder


    Parapara Dam near Richmond Flat, was built by the Parapara Hydraulic Sluicing company at the end of the 19th century.

    COLUMN: Hikers through the Aorere Goldfields this summer will no doubt be impressed by Druggans Dam, by far the biggest relic of the Collingwood goldfields.

    Lesser known, and harder to access, are two other contemporary dams one up the Parapara River and the highest at Boulder Lake.

    For sheer perseverance, the Parapara Hydraulic Sluicing Company holds the record with its 25-year stint in the field.

    Some 80 tons of cement went into their 20m-wide Parapara Gorge dam near Richmond Flat, built around 1895. Sluicing achievements of this company include washing a whole mountain away and irrevocably diverting the Glen Gyle catchment into the Parapara Valley. Well done boys!

    READ MORE:* A dam fine legacy with golden linings* Tableland book tells the perfect tale of Mt Arthur's early pioneers* The hideaways of Hauroko* Family ties help continue a fine tradition

    In terms of determination though, few sagas beat the building of the dam across the outlet to Boulder Lake, high in the barren Quartz Range, 24km inland from Collingwood.

    Floated in London in December, 1896, with an astronomical capital of 150,000, the Collingwood Goldfields Company had good reason to feel optimistic. The conglomerate drifts of the mountainside claim were known to contain rich gold.

    Supplied/Nelson Mail

    Thanks to the dam, Boulder Lake once occupied much of the glacial valley

    One party of early prospectors picked up seven ounces of gold just by turning over large blocks of quartz. Imagine what full scale sluicing could uncover, so went the rationale.

    Impossible country meant that the 50-pound bags of cement had to be carried in on workmans backs for the last part of the climb to the 1000 metre-high dam site. Although just three metres high, the dam nearly doubled the size of the glacial lake.

    A sawmill was established to mill the matai and rimu needed for the eight kilometres of fluming needed to carry the water down from the intake below the dam. The timber had to be punted across the Aorere River and taken three kilometres by wagon before being trucked on a horse tramline up to the flume construction site.

    Over 100 tons of pipes and equipment were transported up from Dunedin and slung across the Aorere River by aerial ropeway. The enormous flurry of activity even prompted Collingwood storekeepers to open temporary branches in the Quartz Ranges.

    Sluicing began in August 1899. Despite a more than adequate water supply, returns at the claim were much less than was hoped for,

    By November of the following year, the company was in liquidation. The operation carried on under a tribute arrangement with former employees.

    Prospects for the new owners were looking bright until 1905, when a big flood carried away part of the fluming. Neither workers or owners were prepared to pay for the costly repairs and all the installed equipment was sold off.


    Algie Soper mustering the Haupiri Range

    Amongst it all operated the graziers who leased Haupiri Station, the two runholders being John (Jack) Flowers who started it, and son Sidney (Sid) Flowers who took it over around 1920.

    This 90 square kilometre run - bordered by the Haupiri Range, Slate River, Mt Hardy, Boulder Lake and Snow River up to the Lead Hills would surely rate as one of the most ambitious grazing leases in the country.

    From Puramahoi, the sheep had to be driven for three days up over Pararara Peak and along Big Hill Face (Walker Ridge) and down to the flats at the top of Boulder Lake.

    To make the sheep think others had come before them, one boys job was to go ahead with a small sack of sheep-dung and use his hand to smear it into the trunks of trees along the route.

    It would prove not the blizzards or the steep rocky faces that defeated the graziers up here, but the errant goldminers who came during the depression and shot sheep for both meat and sport.


    In its heyday, Boulder Lake Dam and Control Gate

    Sid Flowers recalled how one day he came across 13 shot sheep piled into a heap, only their fillets and back legs knifed off.

    He wanted the police to go look for the miner-poachers, but they were not keen on long bush walks where they might be mistaken for an animal and shot.

    Sid put in 850 sheep in his final year, 1933, but could only find 350 to muster out. While his father had some admiration for the dam builders of Boulder Lake, his son did not share his sentiment and one day packed in a load of dynamite to blast open the dam and thereby reclaim the extensive flats at the head of the lake.

    Little remains today to tell the tale of the dambuilders up here. What flumings did survive have all rotted away. Even the devastating tailings down below have largely merged into the landscape.

    But three dams Druggans, Parapara and Boulder - remain as solid tribute to the enormous human effort and endurance.

    Supplied/Melanie Walker

    The view from Druggans Dam today. Photo by Melanie Walker.

    See the original post:
    Determination and true grit defined the early days of Golden Bay's golden days -

    Washington Post’s Woodward, Costa to pen book on end of Trump presidency | TheHill – The Hill - December 9, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The Washington Posts Bob Woodward and Robert Costa are planning towrite a book on the end of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump personally asked Pa. GOP House Speaker for help changing election results: report Warren signals concerns about bipartisan coronavirus framework Pompeos spent over K in taxpayer funds for State Dept dinners MOREs tenure and the beginning of President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenHong Kong police arrest 8 activists over anti-government protests DHS to begin accepting new DACA applications following court order Trump personally asked Pa. GOP House Speaker for help changing election results: report MOREs administration, Axios reported Monday.

    The book will be Woodwards 21st and Costas first and will be published by Simon & Schuster, though the publication date has not been announced.

    "We're two pure reporters what happened and why and this is a perfect landscape for that kind of work," Woodward told Axios.

    Jonathan Karp, the CEO of Simon & Schuster, will edit the book.

    Woodward plans to remain an associate editor at the Post during the project, while Costa willremain a national political reporter on leave, Axios reported. Costa is also the moderator and managing editor of Washington Week on PBS and a political analyst for MSNBC and NBC News.

    The project will come after Woodwards book Rage was published earlier this yearfollowing 18 on-the-record conversations with Trump. The book reported that Trump acknowledged the coronavirus was deadly in a March interview but said he wanted to always play it down to avoid creating a panic.

    As of Monday afternoon, the coronavirus has infected more than 14.8 million people and killed 283,010 people in the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

    See the original post here:
    Washington Post's Woodward, Costa to pen book on end of Trump presidency | TheHill - The Hill

    Getting back to nature in Andalusia – Euronews - December 9, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Snow-capped mountains, subtropical beaches, cactus-filled desert and lush woodlands; Andalusia has every conceivable landscape. It is also the region of Spain with the highest number of nature reserves, each with its own totally unique character.

    Its rich vegetation sees swathes of woodland filled with holm oak, cork trees and Aleppo pines flanking groves filled with olive, cherry or almond trees, and its contrasting landscapes promote a biodiversity that includes lynxes, eagles and vultures.

    Lovers of hill-walking are spoilt for choice, from the forested massif of the Montes de Mlaga or the dramatic Desapeaperros river gorge. While the region's beaches are no secret, what are less known are coastal stretches such as the Estrecho, which takes in sheer cliffs, undulating dunes and underwater caves.

    Three of Spain's most stunning national parks are found in Andalusia: the Doana, which mostly falls within the western province of Huelva, and the mountain range of the Sierra Nevada, which forms a backdrop to the magical city of Granada. Further east lies the strange desert landscape of the Cabo de Gata in Almeria.

    Established as a protected area in 1969 and later to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Doana park is most famous for its population of rare Iberian lynxes and the endangered imperial eagle. Its patchwork of marshes, lagoons and dunes is home to a vast variety of ecosystems, however, in which 120 species of birds (up to 300 during migration season), and animals including deer, badgers, wild boars and mongoose are able to roam without threat.

    In the summer months, as even the marshland begins to dry, many birds seek shelter and water in the adjacent Brazo del Este park, a flat expanse of wetlands created by the agricultural modifications that humans have made alongside the Guadalquivir river.

    In stark contrast, the Sierra Nevada (the name of which means 'snowy mountain range') is known for its high peaks, and the area is a popular skiing destination in winter. It is also a designated biosphere, thanks to its ancient forests, its abundance of butterflies and insects many of them exclusive to the massif and over two thousand different species of plants.

    The Cabo de Gata, named for its agate rock, is an otherworldly zone of rugged volcanic slopes, steep cliffs and desert, with the lowest rainfall in Europe. Beloved of film-makers such as Sergio Leone for its cactus-strewn Wild West landscape, the park also incorporates a 120m2 marine reserve, coral reefs and rocky islands teeming with wildlife.

    Not as well known are some of the region's smaller nature reserves, dotted from the eastern and western borders of southern Spain, and encompassing a rich variety of geographical and climatic features. Smaller than the national parks, they often require permission to enter, and have been set up to protect the more fragile ecosystems.

    Frequently they are made up of wetlands surrounding a lagoon, such as that at the Laguna de Fuente de Piedra, known for its saline substrata that saw the area used as a salt mine from Roman times up until the 1950s. The former dykes and canals constructed for this purpose are now home to a large colony of flamingos, among other aquatic birds.

    Seagulls, sandpipers and redshanks are also found at the Punta Entinas-Sabinar, a semi-arid ecosystem on the western coast of Almera, and a mix of sandy beaches, marshes, salt flats and dunes held steady by Mediterranean scrub.

    Many such reserves are found, across every province, as are what is termed 'natural landmarks' caves, canyons, waterfalls, and so on, deserving of special protection. One such is the 30-metre-high dune at the windswept beach of Bolonia; another is the spectacular 2km-long Cueva de los Murcilagos ("Bat Cave") in the province of Crdoba.

    For a general appreciation of the geographical diversity that Andalusia has to offer, however, visitors have at their disposal a network of 'vas verdes' ('green ways'). These disused railway lines have been converted into flat, wide pathways, which visitors can use to explore the countryside on foot or by bicycle.

    Some provide historical context, such as the former route of the oil train, the Va Verde de la Subbtica, which runs for 112km between olive groves and vineyards to the south of the province of Cordoba, or the Va Verde de Riotinto, where the old mining trains once ran alongside the Tinto river.

    Others, however, simply provide a way to appreciate the hills and rivers, meadows and orchards, mountains and marshes that make up this most rewarding of Spanish regions.

    Read the rest here:
    Getting back to nature in Andalusia - Euronews

    You Can Almost Touch the Sky in This Renovated Midcentury Home in L.A. – Dwell - December 9, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Dwell Escapes is supported by Genesis. We selected this escape because its streamlined, daylit living areas and minimalist palette of metal and wood echo the luxurious interior of the Genesis GV80.

    Robert Galishoff originally hired architects Brett Woods and Joe Dangaran to bring his single-story midcentury home back to life, but as they began to work together on the Clear Oak Residence, the three men saw the potential for something more. What began as a simple renovation turned into a major one, and through a successful partnership, the homeowner and architects created a reverent sanctuary in the sky.

    The Genesis GV80 sits near the open carport of the Clear Oak Residence.

    The 5,000-square-foot single-story home sits on a hill overlooking the San Fernando Valleyso spectacular views were a given. However, Woods and Dangaran wanted to utilize architectural strategies to take the views to a new level and give the home a characteran ethosthat would captivate all who entered.

    Upon entering the home, the eye is immediately drawn to the full panel of windows and the views beyond.

    Woods drew inspiration from the first time he entered the Pantheon and looked up, hoping to create a similar emotional reaction in visitors.

    Dangaran describes it like this: "We were trying to reduce the noise and let these spaces be filled by the landscape, sun, furniture, and the energy of the occupantall those things come in and fill in the architecture, which serves as the background."

    Clear Oak Residence is nearly hidden by the landscape, which makes this home a true retreat from the hubbub of the city. A Genesis GV80 sits surrounded by lush landscaping.

    The experiential design begins outside the home in an arrival sequence meant to produce a feeling of relaxation.

    "When you walk up to Clear Oak, you come in from the entry gate, walk past this beautifully finished carport, and then reach a garden area which has mature bamboo plants and other low-water landscaping, before you pass a water feature which trickles," explains Robert.

    The warm wood of the front door, leather sheath on the brass handle, and glass panel set an inviting and relaxing tone for the home.

    Visitors enter through a large teak front door with a custom-made brass handle wrapped in an exquisite leather sheath, and find their attention drawn immediately to the sky. It shines through glass doors that spread across the entire back wall. The infinity pool, plant-filled backyard, and mountainsframed by white poles and an outdoor overhangdraw one forward to stand under the warmth of the sun that shines through a roof puncture on the outdoor patio.

    An aperture in the roof draws the eye skyward upon entering the backyard.

    The puncture, which acts as a sundial throughout the day, is one of many creative window elements found throughout the house. Whether its a skylight that mirrors a 15-foot kitchen island, an expanse of glass in the bedroom, or a glazed wall on one side of a narrow hallway, these transparent layers guide the eye upward, evoking the fascination that the ancient Greeks and Romans had with the mysteries of the sky.

    Homeowner Robert Galishoffs background in fashion and design shines through in the homes artwork, lighting, and furniture selection.

    "Were interested in the sky, and were connected to the skywhether thats an interior experience or an exterior experience," says Dangaran.

    To maximize the effect, Robert, Woods, and Dangaran conducted sun studies to see exactly how the sun and shadows might display inside depending on their choice of window placements or structural framing.

    Travertine tile flooring was used inside and outside the Clear Oak Residence to create visual consistency.

    Woods notes, "The views are obvious. Theres mountains. Theres canyons. There's a bunch of beautiful trees. I think were challenging an obvious view by saying, Look up and look at the sky, and lets frame this moment."

    To create a flow through the house and draw the eye to the skylights or glass windows, the architects utilized a simplified palette of materials: anodized aluminum, teak, plaster, and travertine.

    The skylight and floor-to-ceiling glass windows invite nature into the bathing area of the bathroom.

    "Youll see that the interior floors and the exterior floors are all travertine," said Dangaran. "When the doors are open, theres a physical consistency." The travertine guides the eye beyond the glass barrier to the outside, and in the bathroom, its used in a wall behind the tub to draw the eye to a skylight above.

    The architects were mindful to include materials like teak and travertine that would hold up against the strong Southern California sun.

    As for the use of teak, Robert explains that it was chosen because its a strong and durable wood that stands up against the Southern California elements, while also bringing warmth and elegance to the midcentury home.

    "When you're in Rome, travertine is everywhere," says Robert, noting that if it lasted in Rome for centuries, it would last in the Clear Oak residence too. "Travertine and teak were obvious choices here for longevity and for beauty, not for value."

    Where some people find joy escaping to the beach or canyon, Robert Galishoff finds the same sense of adventure and discovery in his home.

    The use of teak and travertine, which is broken up by white plaster walls and artworks from Roberts extensive collection, creates a seamless design thats beautiful without being what Robert calls "showy:" "Im not showy, the architects style isnt showy, and midcentury architecture is everything but showythe genesis of that design theme was really modern materials used in economical ways."

    The glass wall makes this narrow hallway look larger than it is.

    The result is a home that has character at every turn, like a wine room hidden behind a solid door, brass detailing on teak walls for hanging art, and creative landscaping strategies that make the backyard look larger than it is.

    Wonderous views can be enjoyed from the lounge chairs that line the infinity edge pool.

    "The house is a peninsula, floating above the city. You can see the freeway in the distance and the mountainsbut you dont feel like youre exposed, because the landscape is so protective. You dont feel like youre on a hillside," said Woods.

    The pools infinity edge creates the illusion that the home floats above the San Fernando Valley.

    Instead, you feel far from the busy streets of Los Angeles, drifting away from the ground and closer to Helioss chariot as it crosses the sky.

    Robert explores the new Genesis GV80 with his dog, Tony.

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    You Can Almost Touch the Sky in This Renovated Midcentury Home in L.A. - Dwell

    Sylvacurl: Reduces waste, supports healthy forests and local economy – Vermont Biz - December 9, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Jim Lovinsky also manages their Eastview Farm in East Hardwick, where he and his wife, Mary-Ellen, grow organic seed garlic and raise dairy goats and Highland beef cattle. Photos by Erica Houskeeper

    by Christine McGowan, Vermont Forest Industry Network Resourceful Vermonters have long looked to the forest for wood heat, building materials, and furniture, but Jim Lovinsky, owner of Sylvacurl in East Hardwick, may be among the first to see an alternative to plastic packing peanuts.

    The company produces wood curls that can be used in place of plastic and polystyrene packaging materials. Compostable and biodegradable, the curls are free of dyes or chemical treatments and can be reused or simply returned to the earth. Its no different than leaves falling off the trees, said Lovinsky.

    As many of us look to ship gifts to family and loved ones this season, well also be contributing to an estimated 25 percent increase in household wastemore than 25 million tons of garbagebetween Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to the EPA. The Lovinskys hope to make a dent in the amount of waste being sent to landfills, while supporting Vermonts forested working landscape.

    Jim and Mary-Ellen Lovinsky take a break after producing and bagging wood curls in East Hardwick.

    Ahead of Their Time

    Sylvacurl has been around for more than twenty years, when Lovinsky first became concerned about forest industry jobs as paper mills began pulling out of New England in the 1980s.

    As the paper mills moved overseas, New England was left with fewer markets for low-grade wood, said Lovinsky, which threatened not only jobs, but our working landscape as well.

    Working with leaders from UVM Extension, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, and the Governors Task Force on Northern Forest Lands, Lovinsky became an advocate for the industry, working to preserve jobs and prevent large tracts of forest from being sold off. Finding new markets for low-grade wood was a constant topic of conversation, so when he saw an ad from a company in Georgia that was using wood curls for horse bedding, the idea for Sylvacurl was born.

    Purchasing the equipment he needed to process curls from a company in West Virginia, Lovinsky officially opened Sylvacurl in 1993. Instead of animal bedding, however, he focused on an alternative to plastic and polystyrene packaging. Sourcing wood from nearby Lamarres sawmill in Brownington, he quickly discovered that poplar, a fast-growing native species, was perfect for manufacturing wood curls. Light in color with a neutral odor, the wood held the curls nicely and condensed to create secure packaging, even for fragile items.

    The company initially worked seasonally to supply local companies including Shelburne Farms, Fat Toad Farm, Nervous Nellies, and Jasper Hill with packaging during the holiday season, and found some interest from potpourri manufacturers. While they could see potential to scale the business, they found that for many businesses and consumers, sustainable packaging was not top-of-mind in the 1990s.

    Jim Lovinsky, owner of Sylvacurl in East Hardwick, manufactures wood curls with poplar, a native tree species. Light in color with a neutral odor, the wood holds the curls nicely and condensed to create secure packaging, even for fragile items.

    We may have been a little ahead of our time when we started out, he said, noting that when they first opened, they had to educate buyers about the environmental impact of styrofoam before they could make a pitch for their product.

    No one was talking about a circular economy back then, said Lovinsky, adding that Sylvacurl closes the loop as a business. In addition to the curls being biodegradable, the sawdust that they shake off prior to shipment is used for animal bedding on their farm, and later composted. From there, the compost is used to top dress their gardens, completing the cycle.

    An Opportunity to Do More

    Of course, all of that has changed in recent years with businesses from Amazon to Zappos working to reduce their carbon footprint through sustainable packaging. A recent study on consumer trends indicates that 57 percent of people are willing to change their purchasing habits in order to reduce their negative environmental impact, and 70 percent will pay a premium for sustainable, eco-friendly goods. Add to that a sharp increase in online shopping during Covid-19 and Sylvacurl may have an opportunity to make a real dent in those styrofoam packing peanuts.

    Up until now, said Lovinsky, Sylvacurl has been a side business, something my wife and I could manage while still working full time. We grew slowly and organically, just the way we wanted to, for twenty years.

    Mary-Ellen Lovinsky bags wood curls at Sylvacurls production warehouse in East Hardwick.

    Over the past eight months, however, existing customers like Jasper Hill Farm, Blanc Creatives, and igourmet have increased their orders for Sylvacurl packaging as their own online sales have skyrocketed. New customers are also coming in through referrals. This holiday season, Lovinsky expects to ship 10,000 cubic feet of curls to customers, the equivalent of approximately 4,500 board feet. According to Lovinsky, thats a 40 to 50 percent increase over last year-- a trend he hopes will continue as the new normal post-pandemic.

    We are reassessing our growth, said Lovinsky, who would like to focus more on marketing and sales for the company. We certainly have an opportunity to do more. And of course, growth brings challenges as well, which makes it that much more exciting.

    Good Stewards, Good Neighbors

    Lovinsky has held onto his day job as Executive Director of the Lamoille Housing Partnership. His wife Mary-Ellen, a reading specialist, also manages their Eastview Farm in East Hardwick, where they grow organic seed garlic and raise dairy goats and Highland beef cattle. Their grown children, James and Kathryn, helped as active participants in the business growing up and still help out when they can, but for the first time, Lovinsky can see needing to hire some part- or full-time help.

    Whether its manufacturing natural packaging, advocating for forest industry jobs, helping Vermonters find affordable housing, or growing good food, the thread that runs through the family business is to be good neighbors and good stewards of the land. We will always work to make a difference in the place we live, said Lovinsky.

    About the Vermont Forest Industry Network

    Vermonts forest products industry generates an annual economic output of $1.4 billion and supports 10,500 jobs in forestry, logging, processing, specialty woodworking, construction and wood heating. Forest-based recreation adds an additional $1.9 billion and 10,000 jobs to Vermonts economy. The Vermont Forest Industry Network creates the space for industry professionals from across the entire supply chain and trade association partners throughout the state to build stronger relationships and collaboration throughout the industry, including helping to promote new and existing markets for Vermont wood products, from high quality furniture to construction material to thermal biomass products such as chips and pellets. Learn more or join at

    Read more:
    Sylvacurl: Reduces waste, supports healthy forests and local economy - Vermont Biz

    Two of Germanys top automakers realign their respective motorsport strategies – Top Speed - December 9, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    BMW Motorsport Will no longer be in Formula E after 2020-2021 season

    BMW has become the second big-name manufacturer to quit the Formula E World Championship in just two days following a lackadaisical announcement that offers some clue as to why the board in Munich has decided to follow Audi through the open door come the end of the next season. As the worlds most prestigious EV-only racing series, Formula E has thus lost two big players that have been supporting the series ever since its debut season all the way back in 2014.

    Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020, BMW ought to have told us just how happy it is that its driver, 23-year old Maximilian Guenther, topped the timesheets during last weekends Formula E pre-season test days held at Valencia, in Spain. There, Guenther, who drives for the BMW i Andretti Motorsport team, set the pace during the final day of proceedings indicating that BMW may be a force to be reckoned with in the seventh season of Formula E thats set to kick-off with the Santiago ePrix in mid-January.

    Instead, BMW Motorsport effectively told us that season seven will be the brands last, with the factory program that backs the American Andretti Autosport operation set to end after just three seasons. The racing arm of the Bavarian company underlines that, "as a partner from the word go, BMW has been instrumental in the success of Formula E." However, "when it comes to the development of e-drivetrains, BMW Group has essentially exhausted the opportunities for this form of technology transfer in the competitive environment of Formula E."

    The statement goes on to say that "the strategic focus of BMW Group is shifting within the field of e-mobility," meaning that the automaker, "will now concentrate on a model offensive and series production in large quantities with the fifth-generation BMW E-drives." In an additional press release, BMW is adamant that the plan is, "to have put one million electric vehicles on the roads by the end of 2021. The goal is to increase this figure to seven million by 2030, of which two-thirds will be fully-electric." Key to this onslaught are models such as the upcoming BMW iX, previewed by the BMW Vision iNext Concept Car of 2018 and, more recently, by the iX prototype.

    BMW began its collaboration with the Formula E World Championship six years ago but not as an entrant or chassis manufacturer. Instead, BMW provided the entire fleet of safety and officials cars that appeared during each and every Formula E weekend, finally making the step into the arena ahead of the 2017-2018 season when it became a key technical partner of Andretti Autosport. Then, from the 2018-2019 season onwards, the Andretti Autosport team morphed into the official BMW Formula E team under the BMW i Andretti Motorsport moniker. The move coincided with the introduction of the second-generation Formula E cars, BMWs contender being the iFE.18 driven by Antonio Felix da Costa and then-newcomer Alex Sims.

    Thus far, BMW has competed in 24 races as a factory team scoring four victories, four pole positions, and nine additional podiums.

    With the iFE.21 model that features a BMW-developed drivetrain, BMW aims to add to that tally of wins and podium finishes in season seven when Guenther will be joined by Jake Dennis who has replaced Alex Sims.

    In recent times, Volkswagen has made waves by smashing the all-time Pikes Peak International Hill Climb record with the awe-inspiring ID.R prototype. Powered by two electric motors that combine to deliver 671 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, the ID.R also starred on the Nuerburgring-Nordschleife where it snatched the record for the fastest-ever EV in effortless fashion.

    That all took place during the summer of 2019 (including re-writing the Goodwood Hill Climb record) and we all thought that the ID.R is the sign of things to come in two different areas. First of all, its a sign of things to come on the street since Volkswagen has spent billions to make sure that its ID family of electric models (that includes stuff like the ID.3, ID.4, and many, many more) will rule the world. Moreover, we believed that its also a sign of things to come on the worlds race tracks and - why not? - on the rally stages following Volkswagens announcement that it leaves ICE-powered racing behind.

    The news, that arrived last year, basically signaled the end of the road for the highly successful Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR that was originally meant to live on through a successor supposedly built to the upcoming set of TCR rules. Instead, the TCR race cars production has ceased at the end of 2019 meaning all the cars youve seen in the 2020 season of GT World Challenge America and in the Michelin Pilot Challenge arent that new. Moreover, Volkswagen also shelved a new Polo GTi R5 rally car although it pledged its support towards all of the privateers still running the current iteration of the rally car.

    At the time, we understood that "Volkswagen Motorsports customer sport program will be electrified," and that "the first stage will involve different disciplines, platforms and vehicle types being examined and evaluated." The factory team too was supposed to undertake at least some EV racing programs because, as Volkswagen Motorsport boss Sven Smeets put it, racing represents "a convincing marketing platform to inspire people even more towards electric mobility."

    Apparently, views on the subject have shifted in the past 12 months and, now, the suits up in Wolfsburg have canned the entire motorsport arm of VW. The decision has been made, according to Chief Development Officer of the VW brand Frank Welsch, as "part of the companys realignment," in a bid to become "the leading supplier in sustainable electric mobility." To achieve its lofty goals, VW decided that it needed all hands on deck in the production EV department which means that the 169 employees that are currently part of the motorsport program will be integrated into various areas of road car development.

    "The deep technical expertise of the employees as well as the gained know-how from the ID.R project will thus remain in the company and will help us to bring further efficient models of the ID family onto the road," Welsch added. Does this mean Volkswagens five-decade-long relationship with the world of racing will never be rekindled in the future? Thats hard to tell at the moment but we guess Volkswagen wont be back racing any of its programs until the entire ID family is firing on all cylinders and the Group as a whole is happy with the figures that its EVs return.

    Looking back, Volkswagen traces its racing roots all the way back to the days of Formula Vee (short for Formula Volkswagen) in the 60s and 70s. At the time, the entry-level single-seaters were utilizing pre-1963 VW Beetle running gear held in place by a purpose-built tube frame chassis. At a price tag of about $15,000 to $20,000, Formula Vee remains arguably the cheapest open-wheel formula in the world and thats why, over the decades, it acted as the launching pad for the careers of many a famous racing drivers including Niki Lauda, Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet, and Keke Rosberg - all of whom have gone on to become F1 champions.

    Both BMW and Volkswagen have pinpointed their desire to focus more on their electric car divisions as the main reason behind their collective change of heart towards racing. Having said that, fans are now hoping that the budget that BMW will free up by quitting FE will be pumped into a different, more exciting program, but it doesnt seem like BMW is willing to follow Audi all the way and show up at Le Mans or at the start line of the Dakar Rally.

    In fact, its barely been one year and a bit since BMW decided to quit the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) where it had been racing in the GTE-Pro ranks with the lanky M8 GTE. The shocking decision, made merely one year after that program had debuted in partnership with M-TEK, was followed recently by BMWs announcement that it ]wont offer too much support->] to the GT3 teams that are looking to compete in the new-fangled DTM with BMW M6 GT3 race cars.

    However, the Bavarian marque is preparing to launch a brand-new GT3 car based on the 2021 BMW M4 Coupe. The GT3 racer, slated to make selected appearances at long-distance events throughout 2021 before beginning to reach customers in 2022, will most likely be followed by a GT4 variant set to replace the current M4 GT4.

    Beyond that, we also know that BMW is still coy to commit to another full season of IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship racing seeing as the Rahal-Letterman Lanigan Racing BMW M8 GTEs (yes, they were kept alive Stateside) havent broken through during the recently-concluded 2020 season that saw Corvette dominate with the new C8.R GTE. Given that Aston Martin has announced that it will reduce its footing in the WECs GTE-Pro class next year and that Porsche has ditched IMSAs GTE class, known as GTLM, altogether, its probably reasonable to think that BMW is cautious to dish out cash towards a program that hasnt delivered titles since the early 10s - although the M6 did score two consecutive wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona.

    The current situation in Formula E has raised the alarm within the entire motorsport family. The introduction of the third-generation ruleset (equal to faster, more efficient cars) has been pushed back to 2023 and, thus far, only Mahindra and Mercedes have expressed a clear desire to build the necessary powertrains for Gen 3 Formula E single-seaters as Jaguar, Nissan, DS/Citroen, Porsche, and NIO are still undecided or havent come forth with a formal confirmation of their continued support of the series.

    Mercedes has voiced its opinion on the current state of affairs through the voice of Mercedes Motorsport boss Toto Wolff who told that "I think FE is in a strong position in its niche, and can definitely grow from its niche," before adding that "we remain committed as long as the framework for future regulations, financial regulations, and technical regulations, remain attractive for Mercedes."

    "I think that BMW leaving doesnt mean that Andrettis leaving, and Audi leaving doesnt mean that the Audi entry is leaving. So we will get the message, learn the lessons and make it stronger from here," he went on to stress before arguing that "we need to speed up the discussion around cost cap to make it financially more sustainable and we need to discuss revenue distribution. The stability of the upcoming set of rules is also important for the Mercedes Motorsport supremo who wanted to make clear that racing is "not only about technology transfer. It is about performance under pressure. It is about team spirit. And its about fighting against the best."

    At the moment, it looks like each manufacturer is looking at ways to "fight the best" while also staying relevant within the market and while also being able to convey the message they want to convey in a believable way. VW stepping back potentially allows Porsche to expand its portfolio in racing (an LMDh program is still on the cards) and Audi most likely decided to return to Le Mans and also to race in the Dakar Rally because endurance racing on the one hand and, on the other, rally racing are key components of the companys DNA. Single-seater racing is not.

    Go here to read the rest:
    Two of Germanys top automakers realign their respective motorsport strategies - Top Speed

    Voters have demanded bold leadership and common sense, not partisan gridlock | TheHill – The Hill - December 9, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    This November tens of millions of voters responded to the rockiest political landscape in memory in the most rational way possible by splitting their tickets.

    The much-predicted Blue Wave never materialized, as Republicans outperformed the polls, gained a number of seats in the House and so far look to be holding their ground in the Senate. And while Bidens transition team powers forward, they must be aware that much of America seems unimpressed by the policies and rhetoric of the far left wing of his party.

    Pundits quickly weighed in that a new administration would be forced to compromise with a divided Congress. That appraisal certainly makes sense, but I dont think it fully captures the voters sentiment. Yes, people clearly rejected the extreme wings of both parties; but that doesnt necessarily mean they voted for listless half measures and perpetual gridlock.

    Instead, I believe they voted for commonsense solutions which is not the same thing as compromise. Americans recognize that we face very real and urgent problems, and I believe they still want their leaders to act boldly and decisively. But they want pragmatic approaches and action, not ideological adventures to nowhere.

    Democrats failed to grasp this. While polling shows that voters across the political spectrum care about climate change, including a majority of self-identified conservatives, Republicans balk at the heavy-handed government mandates put forth in the so-called Green New Deal. In the waning days of the campaign, swing voters in key areas felt that workers in traditional energy industries were unfairly under attack and that at least for the time being fossil fuels will need to make up an important, but diminishing part of our energy mix.

    Now more than ever America needs its Republican leaders to resist the temptation to simply be a roadblock to radical leftwing proposals, and instead put forth their own commonsense clean energy proposals that wont pit the economy against the environment.

    Republicans in Congress must seize on this chance to bring forth market-based, conservative policies that, unlike the Green New Deal, will not bankrupt our future. Party leaders should continue efforts to support clean energy industries and implement policies that continue investing in tomorrows technologies today. The jobs and economic data dont lie the clean energy sector has been an economic engine that has allowed our nation to depend less on foreign oil, while also mitigating the impact of climate change in our communities.

    And they need not wait until the new Congress to get started.

    There is an immediate opportunity to pass meaningful legislation in the lame-duck session with the American Energy Innovation Act (AEIA), which is a compilation of more than 50 energy-related measures considered and individually reported by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year. Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiBig banks get a big break on pending whistleblower law The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress inches closer to virus relief deal Lawmakers pressure leaders to reach COVID-19 relief deal MORE (R-Alaska) is determined to get the AEIA passed this year in the final days of her chairmanship, and it would be a lasting legacy.

    The legislation has strong bipartisan support as it consists of measures sponsored or co-sponsored by more than 60 senators. It focuses on American leadership in the research and development of innovative energy technologies, such as renewables, energy storage, and carbon capture, as well strengthening our national security in key areas and facilitating workforce development.

    The AEIA is not a silver bullet for solving climate change, but it taps into the best America has to offer its researchers, scientists, and entrepreneurs and is the lowest hanging fruit available that can make a real difference in reducing emissions. At the same time, it will serve as an immediate economic stimulus as every job created directly from public R&D investment creates an average of 2.7 additional jobs from indirect impacts.

    Longer term, bipartisan solutions should also leverage the ingenuity and hard work of American farmers, foresters, ranchers and fishermen, who have been Americas environmental stewards for generations. One legislative example is the Growing Climate Solutions Act (GCSA), which would provide those who live and work on the land with planning, technical assistance, and third-party certification to access carbon credit marketplaces. It would provide voluntary incentives for practices that capture carbon, reduce emissions, and improve soil health.

    Voters want leadership in Congress that understands that economic growth and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive objectives. Commonsense solutions may not fit into the traditional partisan framework, but lawmakers who can work across the aisle and implement them will be rewarded at the ballot box in future elections.

    Heather Reams is Executive Director for Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES), a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization founded in 2013 to engage Republican policymakers and the public about responsible, conservative solutions to address our nations energy, economic, and environmental security while increasing Americas competitive edge.

    Read the original:
    Voters have demanded bold leadership and common sense, not partisan gridlock | TheHill - The Hill

    Webinar on saving pollinators (and success of Breakneck Hill’s pollinator habitat) Monday – mysouthborough - December 9, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    by beth on December 4, 2020

    Above: On Monday evening, you can learn about how to use an experts list of plants to support native pollinators at risk. You can also hear about the success of a special pollinator initiative based in town. (image cropped from pic posted to flickr by John Baker)

    On Monday evening, the Metrowest Conservation Alliance Native Pollinator Task Force is holding a webinar for the public. The topic is Assessing and Improving Your Landscape to Save Native Pollinator Species At Risk in Massachusetts. The event will feature learnings from an initiative on Southborough conservation land.Southborough Open Space Preservation Commission is inviting the public to to zoom in.

    The Southborough Open Space Preservation Commission (OSPC) invites you to attend the Metrowest Conservation Alliance Native Pollinator Task Forces free webinar Assessing and Improving Your Landscape to Save Native Pollinator Species At Risk in Massachusetts Monday at 7pm, featuring the creation and success of pollinator habitat at Southboroughs Breakneck Hill Conservation Land

    Since 2015 the OSPC has been collaborating with Dr. Robert Gegear, a professor of biology at UMASS Dartmouth to rebuild functionally diverse native ecosystems, across town, on conservation, public, and private land. A focus of our efforts has been to save pollinators in decline at Breakneck Hill Conservation Land in partnership with the Southborough Stewardship Committee and with support from the Conservation Commission.

    More info: Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (

    Link to Register:Webinar Registration Zoom

    The webinar will instruct on how to use Dr. Gegears Plant List for at-risk native pollinators:

    Learn about the importance of providing multiple habitat needs for at-risk species, find what you already have growing in your space, and where to begin searching for these plants.

    Updated (12/5/20 7:01 am): I initially listed the wrong organization as the host.

    Read more here:
    Webinar on saving pollinators (and success of Breakneck Hill's pollinator habitat) Monday - mysouthborough

    Miller: Onslow’s high school conference landscapes have changed over the years – Jacksonville Daily News - December 9, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Chris Miller|The Daily News

    Former Southwest High School football coach and athletic director Phil Padgett joked in 2013 that a reason his school moved up in realignment was due to the Walmart shopping center being built on Yopp Road a sign that commerce was ready to grow, and with it more housing developments.

    While the Southwest community has seen business growth, it also has faced a decline in population, resulting in the school seemingly on the 1-A/2-A border every four years during NCHSAA realignment cycles.

    Southwest is in its third 2-A stint, having been there when it was built in 1976 until it dropped to 1-A in 1984. The Stallions returned to 2-A in 1997 before dropping back down in 2009.

    More: Playoff spots to mean more for area teams after NCHSAA decision

    The transitions have placed the Stallions twice in the Coastal Plains 1-A, in the East Central 2-A and the Coastal 8 1-A/2-A conference, where they play currently after realignment three years ago.

    Conference landscapes have certainly changed over the years, and Southwest isnt the lone area school to have been affected.

    If the state association's realignment proposal for the 2021-22 school year goes through, Croatan and Dixon will make the jump to 3-A for the first time, while Richlands moves back up to 3-A for the second time since 2013.

    Areas seeing growth

    How did this happen?

    For its next realignment cycle, the NCHSAA not just used Average Daily Membership numbers, it also took into account three-year averages of State Cup scores and Individual Student Percentages, information that shows how any of each school's students benefit from government assistance, including free or reduced meals.

    More: NCHSAA classification breakdown

    While Croatans ADM now is around 870, athletic director Dave Boal said, the Cougars are scheduled to make the jump because of their State Cup performances and low government assistance. Croatan has been a 2-A school since it opened in 1998.

    We are growing and there is development after development being built here, but those two things, the ISP and the Wells Fargo Cup, put us over the hump, Boal said.

    More: NCHSAA final realignment figures

    Dixon, meanwhile, is also growing with an influx of military families continuing to call that area home. Athletic director Brandon Ball anticipated a jump in classification, but not for another cycle.

    We are at 891 I believe, which puts us at the top of 2-A, he said. We dont really stand out in the Wells Fargo Cup but as far as free or reduced meals, the ISP is what got us.

    Then theres Richlands, which was 1-A from 1985-97 before playing in 2-A for the next 16 years. For a short period in 2013, Richlands was Onslow Countys largest high school in terms of enrollment and in 3-A, but the school dropped back down to 2-A in 2017 after Onslow County redistricting moved more kids from Gum Branch Road to Jacksonville High.

    Like Ball, Richlands AD Mike Kelly anticipated another stay in 2-A before a move up the next cycle, adding the ISP figures moved his school over the line.

    Looking ahead

    What does these schools being 3-A for the local conference landscape?

    Ideally, Croatan, Dixon and Richlands would join Jacksonville, Northside, Swansboro and White Oak in one Onslow conference, a league that ADs said would make traveling and scheduling easier, and perhaps provide some newgeographical rivalries.

    But things are not that simple.

    West Carteret remains 3-A, but is the Morehead City school placed in the Onslow conference or do it and 3-A Havelock move on? Keeping West Carteret in a league with Jacksonville, White Oak, Swansboro and Northside would geographically and competitively make sense.

    Havelockwouldnt be missed by many Coastal Conference football teams, but the Rams fate is interesting because they could relocate to a Greenville-based split conference with D.H. Conley, South Central and J.H. Rose.

    And making matters even more convoluted is that New Bern and D.H. Conley have to be together, given they are the only 4-A schools east of I-95 not in the Wilmington area.

    Talk about a domino effect.

    And what happens to Southwest, Onslow Countys only 2-A school?

    My take would be for the Stallions to reenter the East Central Conference with the likes of East Duplin, Wallace-Rose Hill, James Kenan and Clinton, a move that would solidify the league as the states toughest football conference.

    The NCHSAA will begin releasing conference proposals on Thursday.

    Chris Miller can be contacted via email atchris.miller@jdnews.comor by calling 910-219-8472. Follow him on Twitter@jdnsports.

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    Miller: Onslow's high school conference landscapes have changed over the years - Jacksonville Daily News

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